Drone technology has huge potential in the construction industry, aiding communication, facilitating optimised marketing strategies, and making building sites safer. This article explores current applications of drone technology in construction today.
The First Commercial Drones Were Developed in 2006
According to the Wall Street Journal, the first non-military drones were developed by government agencies to fight wildfires, deliver disaster relief, and facilitate border surveillance. Companies soon caught on to the vast potential of drones, using modern technology to make people’s lives safer and easier. For example, drones could be used to spray crops with pesticides, reducing human exposure to hazardous chemicals. They could also be used to inspect pipelines, accessing areas humans may find it hard to get to.
Drones in Construction
Drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) as they are also known, have a variety of different uses within construction. Current applications of drone technology include:
- Building Surveys: As drones are airborne, they can access areas it may be difficult or dangerous for a human to go. Drones are extremely useful for inspecting roofs, reducing the time and cost involved in an inspection by eliminating the need for erection of scaffolding, or the use of a ladder or cherry picker.
- Thermal Image Recording: Drones can reveal cold and hot spots within a building, highlighting building defects that need rectifying.
- Site Inspections: Drones enable personnel to carry out visual inspections without being exposed to any on-site health and safety risks. Images can be fed back to surveyors and engineers in real-time HD, allowing them to check project progress and identify any potential problems.
- Site Logistics: Construction of a building involves more than simply planning the building itself. Engineers must identify heavy machinery, such as vehicles and cranes, that will be needed throughout the construction process; where they are going to go; and plot their path through the building site.
- Laser Scanning: Drones enable surveyors to scan areas high up on a building, where it would be difficult for them to access safely.
- Promotional Photography: Drones can be used to produce impressive aerial photography, making them the perfect tools for estate agents looking to market a property.
- Health and Safety Inductions: By utilising drone technology, construction companies can inspect a site in real-time, identifying health and safety risks. Inductions can be carried out without subjecting participants to the dangers of an active building site, enabling project managers to demonstrate active excavation areas, moving vehicles and cranes without the inherent risks.
Drones also help improve building site security. Find out more by watching the attached video.
Drones Help Contractors Avoid Expensive Mistakes
High resolution images captured by drone technology can be used to create 3D models and 2D orthophotos, enabling construction coordinators to build a rich digital representation of a project. They can use this to pinpoint potential challenges preconstruction, measure progress, and identify mistakes later on.
It is vital that construction companies embrace digital technologies. Sahel Majali is Chairman of the Mid Group, one of the fastest-growing construction companies in the UK today. The Mid Group uses digital technologies such as BIM and virtual reality to deliver optimised offsite construction solutions to private and public sector clients.
Digital technologies facilitate collaboration between all of the various parties involved in a project. View the attached infographic to find out how drones improve cohesion and communication in construction.
Drones in Africa
Compared with other regions, most African governments have imposed relatively few limitations on the use of drones. Many believe this will pave the way for vast opportunities in the African construction industry, as outlined in the attached PDF.
We live in a digital age. Embracing digital technologies, such as drones, BIM and virtual reality is key to gaining a competitive edge in the construction industry today.